1.24 क्लेशकर्माविपाकाशयैरपरामृष्टः पुरुषविशेष ईश्वरः
kleśa-karma-vipākāśayair-aparā-mṛṣṭaḥ puruṣa-viśeṣa īśvaraḥ
kleśa – afflictions, miseries; karma – actions, activities; vipāka – results, fruits of actions; āśayaiḥ – seed impressions of desires lying in the mind; aparā-mṛṣṭaḥ – untouched (by); puruṣa-viśeṣa – a Purusa (Self) distinct from other puruṣas, special Puruṣa; īśvaraḥ – Supreme Controller (God);
Īśvara is a special Puruṣa, unlike other puruṣas, being untouched by afflictions, actions (material activity) and the fruit of actions, and latent impressions or material desires.
1.24 kleśa-karma-vipākāśayair-aparā-mṛṣṭaḥ puruṣa-viśeṣa īśvaraḥ
Īśvara is a special puruṣa, unlike other puruṣas, being untouched by afflictions, actions (material activity) and the fruit of actions and latent impressions or material desires.
Vyāsa and the other commentators, dedicate their longest commentaries to this particular sūtra. So as Vyāsa does, he begins this… his commentary with a question which the sutra of Patañjali answers. And his question is, “Now, who is this Īśvara, other than the Puruśa and Prakṛti?”
So, we’ve previously discussed and talked about how the living being – the self; the ātmā is being described by this term. This term is used… puruśa, which literally can mean a person, and we’ve also understood that the entirety of the material creation or material nature is summed up in this term prakṛti. So he is asking, “Okay, we know about these two types of energy: the material energy and the spiritual energy – the ātmā or puruśa, and so the question is, okay, apart from these two, then who is this Īśvara, and where does he fit in this picture?
Given that his former statement, that by special devotion or a complete surrender of oneself to Īśvara, that one can attain asamprajñāta-samādhi. It is a very important question to ask and something that really needs to be contemplated upon by the sincere practitioner. So, I will just read you some of the commentary provided by Vyāsa because it is I think of great significance. So, he states:
“There are many Puruṣas who have attained the state of liberation, cutting asunder the threefold bondage. Īśvara had no such bondage in the past nor will He have in the future. Liberated persons are known to have had a previous state of bondage, but Īśvara’s case is not like that.”
So here we see that he is making this clear distinction or delineation between even one who has attained full self-realization or liberation, and this person that he is speaking of known as Īśvara or called Īśvara. So Vyāsa continues:
“The Prakṛtilinas have the possibility of bondage in the future, but in the case of Īśvara, there is no such possibility. Īśvara is always free and always supreme.”
So here he is giving these two examples of the idea of formerly being in a state of bondage and having attained liberation, and those who have… are existing in a state of practically merging into the subtle material elements. And as has previously been pointed out, that in such a conditional state one not only can, but will, in future fall from that condition. So, it is not considered perfect liberation. And so he’s now clearly making the distinction that the Īśvara he is speaking of, fits into neither one of those two categories – there is no question of previous bondage, nor any possibility of future bondage. He continues:
“The question, therefore, arises whether this perpetual supremacy of Īśvara, on account of the excellence of His Self, is something of which there is proof, or is it something without any proof? The reply is: ‘The scriptures (or śastra) are its proof.’ What is the proof of the genuineness of scriptures? Their genuineness is based on supreme wisdom. The śastras and their sublime wisdom which are present in the mind of Īśvara and his pre-eminence are eternally related to each other. For these reasons Īśvara is always Īśvara, that is, He is omniscient and always liberated.”
So this to the Western mind is probably going to be quite an extraordinary statement that he has made, or an extraordinary point that he’s made – the acceptance of this śastra; this authoritative testimony, as being the highest authority that should be embraced and accepted without question. This concept or idea is not based on the idea of just blindly accepting something that is created by man; a person. Even a very elevated person as far as the ancient practitioners – the great rishis and sages; the liberated personalities who have themselves experienced full realization, they have deeply appreciated and passed on this appreciation, that these ancient texts have actually descended…this knowledge has descended from a spiritual platform and is free from all inebriety and all material defect. And the wise thing to do is to embrace this authority, and to experience for yourself over time, as one practices and perfects these practices, the reality that these instructions; that these words, are actually inseparable from Īśvara. They are perfect transcendence; they are… even though appearing in this world…are completely or wholly spiritual and wholly transcendental.
So what is the nature of that difference between Īśvara and the other puruṣas, Him being a puruṣa viśeṣa – an extraordinary or special puruṣa? What does it say about Him in śastra? So…I mean there are literally thousands of examples that we can use and I’ve selected a couple in the hope that they… that we can adequately appreciate the nature of what has been stated.
So, the first text that I will share with you is from a very ancient work; it is called the Brahma-saṁhitā. These were prayers… saṁhitā is literally like a hymn. It’s a form of written prose; of scriptural prose that is written in often elaborate and very beautiful text…words that are used…things are presented in a most wonderful way. This particular saṁhitā was compiled by Brahma. Brahma is accepted as being the effective creator of the universe in which we reside, and there is a whole backstory about how he – being the first being to appear within the universe, became fully liberated and undertook the process of creation. So, he is considered to be the first puruṣa, the first being to manifest…or first jivá to manifest within the universe. And in this particular sloka, which is the first sloka in the fifth chapter, he states:
“The Supreme Īśvara who is known as Kṛṣṇa (and Kṛṣṇa means the all-attractive, so Īśvara would necessarily have that quality).. who is known as Kṛṣṇa and Govinda, has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime or original Cause of all causes.”
So, these are really deep philosophical and spiritual principles that have been laid out here, that begin to give us some indication of the nature of this transcendent personality Īśvara. And it describes that He actually has spiritual form or presence – vigrahaḥ is used here, and the nature of that form is that it is sat, meaning that it is comprised of eternal existence; it is cit, which means it is the highest or absolute knowledge and awareness, and ānanda, which is absolute blissfulness, And then it goes on to describe that He is the origin of all…He has no origin, and that when we look at almost all things…at least within our purview in the material world, things have a cause and the cause produces an effect. And when we try to trace back things to the very original Cause of all causes that has no cause Itself, this is stated as being Īśvara. In the Bhāgavat Pūraṇa there is an extraordinarily beautiful prayer that was made by a great Queen… her name was Kuntī; she was the mother of the Pāṇḍavas – of Arjuna from the Bhagavad-gīta, and she offered a series of extraordinary prayers to her…the object the highest object of her love, who was Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. And she states:
“I offer my obeisances unto You O Supreme Person because You are the original personality (this is the Adi-Puruṣam) and are unaffected by the qualities of the material world. You are existing both within and without everything, yet you are invisible to all.”
So, this wonderfully transcendental appreciation for the nature of this Īśvara is laid out before us in this prayer, and these are examples …they’re just two of literally thousands that I could share with you. There are many also in the Bhagavad-gīta, where there are many descriptions of the nature of Īśvara.
Patañjali lays out that this Īśvara is free from four of the significant conditions that result in saṁsāra, which is experienced by all puruṣas. Īśvara is being free from these four conditions. These conditions are now spoken of so that we can perhaps begin to appreciate, at least to some degree, what it is that Patañjali is presenting to us.
The first of these four conditions is referred to as kleśas. Kleśas refers to afflictions… it actually is most often used to indicate pain or suffering, but Patañjali is also using it in the sense of obstacles. There are things that actually result in suffering for the living being in the material condition; that are obstacles to full self-realization, and here he mentions this term for the first time. And I’ll just layout… in the second pada in the third sutra, Patañjali will discuss these things in much greater detail so we will just pass over them somewhat quickly here.
The first is ignorance – ignorance means an ignorance of the actual nature of things. This is called…generally it is known as avidyā. It can also be referred to as tamas – that which is in darkness. So the first of these items…of these kleśas is ignorance or a lack of knowledge of the true nature of things – meaning the living being, the nature of the world, the nature of the connection between me and other living beings including Īśvara, who is considered the supreme amongst all beings, and my connection with material nature; with material energy; the material world.
The second, is the false concept that I am the body, or I am the mind. This is a concept that covers all living beings and it is the actual root of all suffering; it is the root of all misfortune; it is the root of all unhappiness – this false conception. And self-realization is this attempt to move beyond this deeply conditioned idea that this body is me; this is who I am, and to try to come to connect in the most profound way…of full realization with my actual identity as an eternal spiritual being.
The third item is the idea of material attachments. The attachments also have a flipside, which is a version. So, the fact that we become attached or averse to so many things within the material world, is one of the items that is responsible for the tremendous and powerful bondage that the living being suffers under. And the fourth item is literally the fear of death…the fear of death which makes it so one really clings to the body. The reason the living being experiences fear of death…and I’ll just add that all forms of fear in this world spring from a fear of death. We know… like if somebody goes to a doctor for a checkup, and then the doctor says he is got the results. And that somebody goes in, maybe with their partner, or wife, or friend, or alone, and they are sitting there and the doctor’s looking rather serious. And he says, “Well we’ve got the results back from all the testing that we’ve done and there are a few things of concern. You are in an advanced state of having cancer. It may be a stage four cancer that this person has just found out about. And after passing on the news to them and telling the person… you know, “I suggest …there’s not a lot that we’re going to be able to do, but we can definitely try to help you with the quality of the rest of the life that you will have, but I suggest you go home and you really put everything in order.” And the person is just like absolutely in shock, which is kind of astonishing because the only thing that you can actually count on in life, is the fact that you will die. Nothing else is certain; nothing else is sure. The fact that you will die – that, you can absolutely depend on; that you will go through this experience. For the transcendentalist, it’s no big deal. You are simply leaving the body behind; you are experiencing the reality of your own eternal existence, and it’s just a little bit of a bother but it’s not a big deal at all; it’s not a distraction. The person goes home, and if they had been in the doctor’s office alone, they come in and see the wife and they are all grave. And they say, “I’ve got some bad news. I am dying of cancer and there is no way to treat it. It’s gone too far.” And the instantaneous shock that the wife or other family members or parents, or anybody would have, this is all testimony to the fact that everybody carries with them this constant burden of a fear of death. And that fear of death makes it so we want to so much cling to life in the body, and cling to the body. It is the most natural thing to be upset about the idea of death, because we are by nature eternal. And because we are eternal, that thought or the idea of everything coming to an end is absolutely unnatural and quite shocking. This wisdom, as is pointed out in the Bhagavad-gīta – that I’m an eternal spiritual being – can protect one from the worst kinds of fear, as it stated. And it lies in this understanding and appreciation that I am an eternal being; the time that I will spend in this body is temporary, and it will pass. And the idea…for a person who is in ignorance and accepts the body is the self, and then to observe a dead body where there is no manifestation of life or any reaction to things, is frightening and shocking for people – only because of this ignorance where I have accepted the idea that the body is who I am, and seeing the body in that state completely terrifies me; it freaks me out. So this was the first of the four items that Patañjali is referring to here, that all lead to a part of this saṃsāra; this perpetual cycle of birth and death, and all of the limitless suffering that is associated with it.
The second item that he mentions here, is karma. Karma is referring to…literally, it means action, but we should understand that there are different types of actions. In the Bhagavad-gīta and in other texts, they speak of akarma; they speak of vikarma, which is like spiritual action or non-action. Karma, as it is being used here, refers to materially motivated action based on this foundational principle; this ahaṅkāra – the idea that I am… I am something other than the ātmā; the spiritual being. That I am whatever…I am old, young, tall, short, fat, hungry, tired, excited…You know, all these things where we’re describing something that’s going on in the body or mind, and saying that it is ‘me’ that is directly experiencing that. This consciousness and the polluted material consciousness that’s generated from ahaṅkāra, leads to seeking to engage in action – action that will make it so I don’t die; actions that will offer some form of sensual or pleasurable stimulation in my search for happiness; actions where I am seeking to love and be loved, to find shelter…all of these things… to greed, lust, anger…everything that arises now from this, are all together described as being karma – materially motivated action.
So just as a reminder, Patañjali has stated that Īśvara is not affected by the kleśas; He is not affected by karma. In this regard there is a verse from the Bhagavad-gīta – Kṛṣṇa states:
“O Dhanañjaya, all this work cannot bind Me. I am ever detached (from all these material activities), seated as though neutral.”
So here, there has been a reference to the idea of creation and maintenance, and the winding up of creation, and things that would normally be perceived as being karma, or action that is what we would equate to being materially motivated. But Kṛṣṇa is clearly making the distinction that the actions that Īśvara may undertake or perform, cannot be considered karma, in the sense that we understand karma and experience karma, because they are free from all material motivation.
Then the third item that is mentioned there is vipāka, which references the results or the fruits of action. Another word that is used, but Patañjali uses here vipāka, is phalam meaning fruit…karma, karma phalam – the fruits of one’s actions. The fruits of one’s actions make it so that we become perpetually bound to the material world; to material existence, and it perpetuates the cycle of the saṁsāra. People have this notion that when they see a brand new baby…a baby is born and in its mother’s or father’s arms and people are looking at it, and there is this notion that it’s like so innocent and it is so pure. What people do not see is that little guy showed up with mountains of baggage, and you just can’t see it. That baggage is the fruit of past or previous action that will be unpacked as one goes through life, and one will be forced to experience the fruit or the result of previous action along with actions that we engage in this particular life. And so it is understood and that while a person is engaged in action, they must be bound to material existence in order to experience the fruit or the result of all their actions. And then being the fourth item that’s mentioned here – āśayaiḥ. It refers to something that is so terrifyingly subtle. It is the seed impressions of material desires which lie dormant within the mind or the heart of the being. And this references…I mean if we think of karma only in relation to the action per se and the fruit that will come from it, that is very limited. I mean once you’ve burned up that karmic reaction, you are done with it; it’s over. But something that you’re not…you have not got past now, is the fact that when one engages in action, it plants seeds of future desire within the heart – within the core of our being – the citta. And because of that, a person may have lived an exemplary life and then all of a sudden they totally go off the rails, and there are numerous examples of this in the śāstra.
One example is a famous account in the Bhāgavat Pūraṇa of Ajamila. There was a young guy and had been raised in a brahminical family and had always lived an exemplary life. Simply because he one time saw a drunken and low person engaging in sexual activity when he was on his way or returning from collecting items for puja in the forested area; he saw this and it so impacted him that he began following this prostitute around town and always looking at her in remembrance of what he had seen. And he plotted and took her in as a maidservant simply so that he himself could now begin a life of great debauchery, that completely unwound him and literally destroyed him in so many ways. So, it is because of these seeds – these latent impressions that are planted within the mind; the consciousness – that lead to continuous entanglement. This is the great problem that really comes from all forms of karma. So, this Purusha that we have spoken of, is of course not ever bound by, or affected, or subject to, any of these four things.
There is another couple of verses from the Bhagavad-gīta that speaks to this subject, and here Kṛṣṇa has been speaking of two types of purushas – living beings. Not the Supreme Purusha, but amongst living beings, there are those that are bound and those that are liberated. He said:
“Besides these two, there is the greatest living personality, the Supreme Soul, the imperishable Īśvara (or Lord) Himself, who has entered the three worlds and is maintaining them.”
So, I’ll just explain the reference to the three worlds. They basically divide material creation into three principal divisions or categories of places of residence for different types of beings. One category is referred to in English… best referred to as like a heavenly existence, then there is earthly existence and hellish existence. And these three categories is further subdivided into fourteen other categories.
“Because I am transcendental, beyond both the fallible and infallible, (this means the bound and liberated beings) and because I am greatest, I’m celebrated both in the world and in the Vedas as that Supreme Person.”
So in these two verses we’ll see that a couple of words that stand out that have been used. One, of course, is Īśvara and we have this puruṣaḥ, but here they speak of the uttamaḥ puruṣaḥ. This word uttamaḥ, means beyond any tinge of material ignorance. This word tama, we’ve used it before in relation to this material mode of ignorance – tama guṇa. And uttamaḥ means it is beyond…without any tinge, not touched by ignorance, or material conception, or anything which is considered material in any way. So, this verse, or these two verses, clearly delineate the position of Īśvara in relation to other purushas, and in relation to the material creation or the material world – how this Īśvara is always eternally transcendentally situated. So in the next few verses, Patañjali will give even more information about the nature of Īśvara, which will help us in our understanding of why it is that He has this capability or this supreme potency to award liberation or the highest form of samādhi. Thank you.